About MRS

Ian Ferguson, Kennesaw State University

Candidate for MRS Board of Directors

Ian Ferguson

Ian Ferguson has been a vital member of the materials research community for the past 30 years.  He is currently the Dean of the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Kennesaw State University.  He has had leadership positions in both academia (Imperial College, Northwestern University, Georgia Tech, UNC Charlotte, Missouri S&T, etc.) and industry (GEC, EMCORE, etc.).  As an academic, he brings a unique interdisciplinary perspective to any endeavor as he has been faculty in ECE, Economics, MSE, Nanotechnology and Physics departments.  As an international educator and researcher, Ferguson, still has active collaborations in the US, Europe, and Asia; developing GaN- and ZnO-based compound semiconductor materials and devices for applications in the areas of sensors, illumination, solar power, and spintronics.  He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (FRSA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the Institute of Physics, and the International Society for Optical Engineering.

Ferguson has a long and deep relationship with the MRS which began in 1991.  Since that time, he has actively attended MRS meetings, publishing 73 papers in the MRS Online Proceedings since 1996, and giving many oral or poster presentations.  These include invited talks such as the “L’Entrepreneur’s Entrée” at the Technical Innovation Forum IX.  He has also attended many other MRS sponsored topical conferences, publishing papers associated with these meetings.  Ferguson has had the privilege of co-organizing several MRS symposia, such as the “Infrared Applications of Semiconductors III” in 1999 and the “Engaged Learning of Materials Science & Engineering in the 21st Century” in 2015.  More recently, he has been active in serving the broader MRS community on the New Publications Products Subcommittee (NPPS), the Electronic Media Group and attending numerous MRS Congressional Visit Days on behalf of the society.

Ferguson’s impact in the scientific community extends far beyond the traditional academic role, with many other key contributions.  While in industry, as the Director of Research at EMCORE, he was responsible for the development of III-Nitride growth technology through various small business grants. He was a co-inventor on one of the earlier patents in LED lighting, US Patent 6,404,125 (cited >120 times).  He founded the ‘International Conference on Solid-State Lighting’ that was hosted by SPIE (2000-2017).  He is the co-founder of the ‘International Conference on White LEDs and Solid-State Lighting’ (2007-2014) and, most recently, the co-chair for the ‘OSA Light, Energy and the Environment Congress on Solid-State Lighting’ (2017 and 2018).  He has been actively involved in the entrepreneurial process of establishing new companies and has co-founded a business incubator; PiES, the Project for innovation, Energy and Sustainability.  Ecowatch, an environmental news site, named PiES as a top five green incubator in the US that is ‘Shaping the Future of Green Business.’ 

Ferguson has been elected a member of the board for numerous organizations, and so he brings extensive experience of corporate governance and strategic planning to any team.  In addition, he founded, developed and chaired boards for various for-profit and non-profit entities throughout his career.


Candidate's Statement

“One shouldn’t work on semiconductors, that is a filthy mess; who knows if they really exist!”
     - Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, Nobel Prize in Physics (1945)

If this statement held true and fundamental materials problems were not solved by members of the Materials Research Society community then the microelectronics revolution would not have occurred, nor the resulting information age.  Periods of history have often been named after technological innovations associated with development or use of new materials (the stone age, bronze age, iron age, space age) and the societal impact of these advances.  Future revolutions will always involve people from multiple disciplines coming together to solve new materials problems, such as in synthetic biology, quantum materials, polymers, perovskites, and many others enabled by initiatives such as the Materials Genome.  This is core to the MRS’s mission “for the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research and technology to improve the quality of life.”

There have been many studies, to which you have contributed, looking at the future of materials research such as the National Academy’s Frontiers of Materials Research: A Decadal Survey.  The inherently interdisciplinary nature of “[m]odern materials science [that] builds on knowledge from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computer and data science, and engineering sciences...” was recognized here.  We create the materials that people use, and our contributions are so pervasive that they are not always seen or understood.  There is a need to more clearly delineate the contributions that material scientists, engineers and technologists have made, the societal impact and the future directions of our work.  We also need to more clearly communicate the interdisciplinary nature of materials research; it is the interdisciplinary, discipline.  This is core to the MRS’s vision of “providing a framework in which materials disciplines can convene, collaborate, integrate and advocate.”

In putting this statement together, I have already reached out to several different MRS stakeholders to understand how I can best represent and serve our community.  If elected, this ongoing engagement will be the hallmark of my tenure.  Since its founding in 1973, the MRS has continued to grow as a society and to remain relevant through being inclusive, strategic and forward thinking; this is a characteristic of all our endeavors.  However, we still need to better understand how to connect as a community, across multiple disciplines, and how to engage our members in industry as equal partners.  This will give us a stronger voice alongside the many other international societies and meetings (ACS, APS, SPIE, etc.) as one of the most cognitively diverse and inclusive.

In my tenure as a member of the MRS board I will focus on 1.) broadly communicating and recognizing what society members have already achieved, 2.) continuing to build this exceptionally diverse and interdisciplinary community and 3.) ensuring that your voice is heard through an ongoing dialogue.  I am proud to be a member of a society that makes the materials that make the world work through its core values of “promoting technical excellence, being visionary and dynamic, being interdisciplinary and being broadly inclusive and egalitarian.”